Ericsson makes its network slicing move

Network slicing has always been positioned as a key component of 5G but has been a slow burner. Ericsson is seeking to ignite it with its latest launch.

5G RAN Slicing is a software solution designed to manage the process in the RAN. Full network slicing involves the backhaul, core, etc too, so this is a first step, but one Ericsson considers significant. In case you’d missed it, the point of network slicing is to be able to tailor network delivery to specific needs, emphasising certain characteristics such as latency, reliability and bandwidth.

“Ericsson 5G RAN Slicing dynamically optimizes radio resources to deliver significantly more spectrum-efficient radio access network slicing,” said Per Narvinger, Head of Product Area Networks at Ericsson. “What makes our solution distinct is that it boosts end-to-end management and orchestration support for fast and efficient service delivery. This gives service providers the differentiation and guaranteed performance needed to monetize 5G investments with diverse use cases. With 5G as innovation platform, we continue to drive value for our customers.”

We had a chat with Hannes Ekström, Head of Product Line 5G RAN at Ericsson, to get some further insight into the significance of the launch. He was keen to stress that the software allocates radio resources at 1 millisecond scheduling and that it’s all nice and automated, which should ensure consistently optimized resource allocation. He said that results in lower latency, higher spectral efficiency and a lower total cost of ownership.

Presumably conscious of the growing momentum behind OpenRAN, Ekström was keen to stress the solution supports cloud RAN architectures and is nice and flexible, meaning it’s fine for multi-vendor deployments. He also flagged up cloud gaming, in which most of the processing is done in the cloud and then delivered to devices, as a good use-case for network slicing.

Ericsson managed to get Sue Rudd of Strategy Analytics, who has forgotten more than most of us will ever know about this sort of thing, to offer her assessment. “Ericsson is the first vendor to offer a fully end-to-end solution with RAN slicing based on dynamic radio resource partitioning in under 1 millisecond using embedded radio control mechanisms to assure Quality of Service, Over the Air, in real time,” said Rudd.

“This truly end-to-end approach integrates radio optimization with policy-controlled network orchestration to deliver inherently secure virtualized private RAN slicing without the loss of the 30 – 40 percent spectrum capacity due to ‘hard slicing’. Ericsson’s real-time dynamic RAN slicing bridges the ‘RAN gap’ to make e2e slicing profitable.”

There you go. We don’t know how this compares with what the other big vendors have up their sleeve when it comes to network slicing, but Ericsson seems to be the first to go public about theirs. The unsolicited mention of multi-vendor deployments would appear to be a sign that Ericsson is increasingly making sure its new products are OpenRAN-friendly, which is good news for the development of that technology.

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    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 26/01/2021 @ 3:12 pm

      Fair enough.

    • Avatar Felipe 26/01/2021 @ 6:16 pm

      Nokia Ran Slicing takes “minutes” versus the one from Ericsson that takes up to 1 millisecond. That will mean huge differences in the cost of using a 5G slice.

    • Avatar Abel 26/01/2021 @ 8:45 pm

      Well exposed. Thank you.

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